Inside Pulse 12

Review: Clash of the Titans (Microsoft Xbox 360)

Clash of the Titans
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Developer: Game Republic
Genre: Action/Adventure
Release Date: 07/27/2010

If you weren’t already aware, this is a video game based on a movie property. More specifically, one based on a mediocre remake of another movie produced in 1981. For some people, that is going to be enough information to decide not to take the plunge on this title, though to be fair, there have been a few incredible games based on films such as Goldeneye and Lord of the Rings. However, if you’re like me, one of the most intriguing things about trying out games you know nothing about, despite what they may be based on, is what they have the potential to be. The first thing that came to my mind regarding the subject matter of this game is God of War. Does Clash of the Titans actually have what it takes to provide a Kratos level adventure, or is it doomed to mediocrity like the film it is based on?

Let’s Review

Story/Modes
Chances are, if you are reading this review, you probably have already seen the movie and know that it is about, but I’ll humor you anyway. You play as Perseus, the son of Zeus who was born to a human mother and cast out to sea as an infant. You are taken in by a fisherman and his family and raised as one of his own. Soon, one thing leads to another and Hades rains hell down upon your village, thus killing your family in the process and a quest for vengeance against the gods is born. Starting to sound a little familiar so far?

For the most part, the game follows the same plot as the movie, but deviating slightly in order to accommodate a video game adaption. Unfortunately for you as the player, many of the deviations involve busy work to perform as you wait for the next major event in the plot to happen, including but not limited to: fishing, fetching herbs, killing monsters, killing more monsters, and killing even more monsters. Oh, and those first two options involve killing monsters too.

If you enjoyed the film, then you will likely appreciate the tale that is being presented in this game, although you will already know what happens before it does, which kills the suspense a little. Not that it was that great of a story to begin with, in my opinion. Most people will likely focus more of their attention on the action than the actual plot in these types of games, so I guess that can be considered a moot point.

There really is only one true mode to this game and that is the single player story, though there are challenges that unlock during the course of the game (more on those later). If you have a second controller, you can press start in order to have another player join in and take control of an NPC that is assisting you on a quest. I never got a chance to try this out, unfortunately, since if I were to ask one of my friends to play a game based on the Clash of the Titans remake, many of them would probably be offended.

Story/Modes Rating: Poor

Graphics
The characters in this game look true to their movie counterparts (except for Zeus, who does not look like Liam Neeson) and move very fluidly which was a nice surprise. When they open their mouths, however, the suspension of disbelief is spoiled as a lot of the words don’t match their lip movements and their hand gestures seem to happen at random. Much of the cutscenes in this game are told using this disjointed form of communication between characters. So rather than dramatic cutscenes, you are presented with people just standing around and talking a vast majority of the time. This would be fine for RPG’s, but in a game where action and excitement takes center stage, this will put many people to sleep.

I was pleased to find that there didn’t appear to be any graphical glitches, framerate drops or anything like that. One might say this comes at a cost though, as despite how good the characters and monsters might look, the backdrops are very bland. They would be more acceptable if there were more variety to the scenery, but much of it seems like a copy and paste job. This is sad when you consider that you end up visiting many of the same locales over and over again during the course of the game. There are many areas where I felt like they were carbon copies of rooms that I had literally just visited a few minutes before, which not only makes navigation a chore, but it comes across as just plain lazy.

It’s important to note that since this game is rated T for Teen, you won’t see the kind of gorefests that normally take place in a God of War game. It’s unfortunate, but this fact alone doesn’t detract from the game at all. In fact, some of the killing moves look pretty neat and of course everyone’s favorite quick time events make a return appearance in order to allow Perseus to perform some of his more kick ass moves. They do tend to get a bit repetitive after awhile, but what’s here is decent enough.

Graphics Rating: Mediocre

Sounds
Although the characters may look like the actors in the movie, they are not voiced by the same people. Though to be fair they do sound pretty close to the people they are representing. The lines are actually delivered quite well too, even though there is an awkward pause in between seemingly every sentence. This would be fine if you could control the pace in which they deliver their lines, but only in rare instances does it allow you to do this. Usually the game does this for you, creating an unnatural flow of dialogue that you have no control over while it’s happening.

The sound effects are serviceable, though not particularly impressive. There are some instances though when the simple sound of your sword connecting with the enemy will give you the incorrect belief that you are actually doing damage, when you’re actually accomplishing nothing. Some monsters require a specific sub weapon to defeat, otherwise they just teleport around and laugh at you. Or punch you in the face with a stone fist. But if you attack them with a standard weapon, sometimes it will make the same sound as if you were actually doing damage. But you’re not. And the game continues to laugh at you.

There aren’t a large variety of tracks that play in the background, though the ones that are there are decent enough. The boss battle themes in particular can be pretty epic, though like much of the rest of the game, they can be rather repetitive at times as well.

Sound Rating: Mediocre

Control/Gameplay
Despite facing some stiff competition on the market, such as the aformentioned God of War as well as the titles Bayonetta or even Dante’s Inferno, Clash of the Titans does have some solid controls and gameplay mechanics. However, notice I said “solid” and not “great.” This title had the potential to be a very enjoyable game, as there are some ideas presented here that lay some very impressive groundwork. It’s just that none of them are fully realized and what’s left is a melting pot of half-baked concepts and lazy design.

Controls are fairly simple, you have two standard attack buttons mapped to X and Y (which are the buttons that will get the biggest workout in the game). You can target enemies with your left trigger and dodge any of their incoming attacks with the right trigger. You can use the A button to jump as well as B to use any of your sub weapons. And speaking of sub weapons, as you are laying the smack down on your adversaries, there will be occasions where they will glow orange and prompt you to press the left bumper. Doing so starts a quick time event which, if successful, allows you to steal your enemy’s weapons away and take them out with it. You then get to keep the weapon for yourself. If you are able to pull this off with perfect timing, you are rewarded with gifts and soul as well as said weapon.
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There are about 12 different weapons types in the game that range anywhere from maces, to bows, to even stingers that you rip off of scorpions. Some of these weapons are required to defeat certain enemies as well as to destroy monster spawn points. You can only map four of them to your D-pad though, and navigating the menu to select a new one to equip is needlessly cumbersome in the heat of battle. Also, don’t get too excited by the variety, because some of them behave similarly, such as the axe and the mace. Others you don’t even have to use at all, such as the harp, which on a side note I refuse to touch because it reminds me of Edward from Final Fantasy IV. Seriously, who uses a harp as a weapon anyway? Damn spoony bard…

Stealing from your enemies allows you to acquire points in which to upgrade them, but you only acquire these points if the enemy you perform the attack on is using the weapon you want to build up. Not only that, but you have to have items called “gifts” in order to unlock the higher level abilities for some of these weapons. There are so many weapons of each type though, that you will likely never seen the maxed out version of one before you move onto the next. And since you only earn points based on who you kill, using your favorite sub weapons does nothing for building your skill which seems like an ass backwards concept.

Your sub weapons consume soul which is represented by a blue bar underneath your health meter on the top left corner of the screen. To acquire soul, you must perform another move on your enemies called Soul Sieze which allows you to suck up their soul in order to refill the meter. If you use Soul Sieze on an opponent that is almost dead, you will finish them off and acquire a nice amount of soul for doing so. If not, then they can counter your move and you are left open to attack. This is a nuisance if you are trying to use a required sub weapon to kill an enemy and you run out of soul. You will take a lot of damage just trying to fill up your meter. Not to mention your sub weapons really only have one kind of attack, so you’ll be spamming the same move over and over just to bring these opponents down. Just the first of many examples where this game employs the concept of repetition.

Rather than being a linear adventure, this game places you in various hubs where you accept quests from NPC’s. When you accept a quest, you travel to an area to kill monsters until you discover your goal or a cutscene queues that lets you know you’re done. It doesn’t matter what the task is. As I mentioned earlier in the review, every quest involves killing monsters. Need to catch a fish? Kill all the monsters around the lake. Need to find a key? Kill all the monsters in the area until the game tells you you got it. Need to find some herbs? Kill all the monsters in the area. Then kill the herbs (not kidding). Normally the monster slaying would be fine if there was some variety to it, but every quest has you revisiting the same handful of areas over and over again. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the same locale five or six times for different quests.

Again, this would be acceptable if killing monsters was a task brimming with enjoyment. But honestly, you’ll have seen everything the game has to offer in the first 15 minutes. Perseus does become more powerful as the game progresses. At least, the game tells me he does. I don’t notice too much different except perhaps a longer life meter and one extra attack or two. But despite having two buttons delegated to standard attacks, there are very few actual moves to take advantage of. Perhaps Bayonetta has spoiled me, but that game had an entire laundry list of moves and combos for you to perform on your adversaries. While playing Clash of the Titans, I found myself just hitting X over and over again, occasionally stopping to hit left bumper to Sub Weapon Sieze only to subject myself to the same animations over and over again. If you land enough hits you can do a move that will Soul Sieze multiple opponents within a certain radius of you which kills them off and fills up your soul gauge. I especially liked this feature, not because it was gratifying or had a cool animation or anything, but because it meant I didn’t have to fight as many enemies after having done it.

Control/Gameplay Rating: Below Average

Replayability

You’re only going to want to play this game once, if that. As was stated earlier, much of what the game has to offer can be experienced in the opening chapter. On top of that, there is only one difficulty setting, so multiple playthroughs are not merited unless you are a perfectionist and want to collect all of the sub weapons. There are challenge missions that unlock over the course of the game, but they consist of revisiting areas you have already been to in order to kill more monsters. Seeing as how you can do that anyway just by playing the main quest, there’s no real reason to play these. There’s a menu option for downloadable content, though there was nothing available on there as of this writing. Unless of course you had pre-ordered the game via Gamestop in which case you are lucky enough to be treated to a couple quests and weapons. Yes, all three of you.

Replayability Rating: Bad

Balance
If you’re entertained by the game enough to actually want to see it through to completion, then I guarantee you will be able to do it. There is only one difficulty setting, but with a little patience, you should have no trouble at all. Scratch that. A lot of patience.

The enemies follow very predictable patterns and most of them don’t do a whole lot of damage to you. Even if they do, you’ll eventually acquire a sub weapon that allows you to heal and it can be abused like no other. It doesn’t even use much soul to do this, so you can Soul Sieze an enemy, heal to full, and continue to lay waste to your foes. I never saw the Game Over screen once during my playthrough.

The reason I say you’ll need a lot of patience is that every enemy takes… forever… to die… Seriously, you will hack away at the same monster at least 20 or 30 times before it even allows you to do a Sub Weapon Seize. And if you happen to screw up while doing that it’s possible for them to regain a little health and force you to beat them down some more. And don’t get me started on the bosses. You never really know when you’re about to bring them down either since your hits chip away at their health only slightly. You have to do a Sub Weapon Seize to do any serious damage. Just don’t screw up.

Balance Rating: Below Average

Originality
Despite being an inferior game, this title seems to borrow a lot of material from God of War. Everything from the quick time events, to the setting, to the revenge-against-the-gods plotline. It’s too bad that they copied all of the wrong elements, because it’s clear that the team behind this game knows how to put together a functional title that has some solid groundwork and little to no glitches or freezes. Perhaps when they make a game based on the movie’s inevitable sequel, they will better nail down the formula. As it stands now, there are simply too many other games on the market that are far superior and make for a more enjoyable use of your time than this one.

Originality Rating: Bad

Addictiveness
I will admit, that my opening moments with this game had me saying “Hm, this is actually a pretty good game.” As it progressed however, my comments eventually evolved into “Um, haven’t I been here/done this already?” Most people will probably only make it through a few chapters before they realize that they are doing the same song and dance throughout the entire game. And take it from me, I played the entire game and it is the same the whole way through. Even the bosses in this game are nothing more than endurance matches against some slightly larger enemies.

Addictiveness Rating: Below Average

Appeal Factor
Being based on a movie property and all, the people that will be most interested in this title of course are going to be those that enjoyed the Clash of the Titans movie. Others, like myself, will want to check it out with the prospect that it may be a decent God of War clone. Since the latter seems to not be the case, the only other people that may want to try this are fans on Greek mythology or hack-and-slash games. Even if you belong to any of those categories, I can’t in good conscience recommend this to anyone for anymore than a rental.

Appeal Rating: Poor

Miscellaneous
I ripped on this game hard, but I’ll give credit where credit is due, Clash of the Titans is a good framework for a title that could stand against, well, the other titans of the genre. The problem is that there are simply too many other titles that can do everything that this game can do, only better. I enjoyed the assortment of weapons that you were given access to over the course of the single player campaign and I liked that you at least had the capability to play two player mode, if only for limited parts of the game. Being able to go online and do challenge missions with a buddy or three would’ve been a fun feature to have, as would a wider variety of quests and locales. Hopefully Game Republic can take what they’ve learned and use it to make something truly memorable.

As for Namco Bandai, I hope video games based on sub-par movie properties are not the reason that they haven’t been localizing Tales of Graces. Or all of the other unreleased-in-the-US Tales games for that matter. Though, that’s a rant for another day.

Miscellaneous Rating: Good

The Scores
Story/Modes: Poor
Graphics: Mediocre
Sounds: Mediocre
Controls/Gameplay: Below Average
Replayability: Bad
Balance: Below Average
Originality: Bad
Addictiveness: Below Average
Appeal Factor: Poor
Miscellaneous: Good

Final Score: Below Average Game!

Short Attention Span Summary
Clash of the Titans is an unfortunate case of lost potential. Despite the source material, this game had all the makings to be, at the very least, a great God of War knock off. But instead, it winds up falling way short of the high bar set by that franchise. What you’re left with is a title that while derivative of other games in the genre, manages to fail at borrowing even the bare minimum of elements that make other games such as Bayonetta so successful. There is very little variety to the gameplay or the scenery and you will likely grow bored long before you ever see the ending credits. If you’re a fan of the movie, Clash of the Titans may be worth a rental for you, but everyone else should probably treat it like Medusa and try not to make eye contact with it.

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